Jakarta gover­nor grilled over blas­phemy al­le­ga­tions

The Myanmar Times - - World -

JAKARTA’S Chris­tian gover­nor was ques­tioned by police yes­ter­day for the first time since be­ing named a sus­pect in a blas­phemy in­ves­ti­ga­tion seen by crit­ics as a test of re­li­gious tol­er­ance in Indonesia.

Police are pur­su­ing al­le­ga­tions that Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama, bet­ter known by his nick­name Ahok, in­sulted the Ko­ran, an of­fence that car­ries a jail sen­tence in the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­try.

The al­le­ga­tions have sparked much anger among Mus­lims – both mod­er­ate and hard­line – with more than 100,000 tak­ing to the streets of Jakarta ear­lier this month de­mand­ing Mr Pur­nama be pros­e­cuted.

Mr Pur­nama – Jakarta’s first nonMus­lim leader in half a cen­tury and a mem­ber of Indonesia’s eth­nic Chi­nese mi­nor­ity – de­clined to com­ment as he ar­rived for ques­tion­ing at na­tional police head­quar­ters.

But his spokesper­son Ruhut Sit­o­m­pul said Mr Pur­nama would con­tinue to co­op­er­ate with police, who have or­dered the gover­nor not to leave the coun­try.

Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo met po­lit­i­cal fig­ures this week to bol­ster sup­port be­fore fur­ther ral­lies planned in com­ing weeks by re­li­gious groups.

The mas­sive demon­stra­tion ear­lier this month turned vi­o­lent as hard­lin­ers torched ve­hi­cles and at­tacked police, forc­ing Mr Wi­dodo to can­cel a trip abroad to man­age the cri­sis.

Police have vowed to crack down on hard­lin­ers who try to use fu­ture ral­lies to stoke vi­o­lence.

The nam­ing of Mr Pur­nama as a sus­pect means au­thor­i­ties be­lieve they have enough ev­i­dence to con­sider fil­ing charges.

He stoked anger in Septem­ber when ac­cus­ing his op­po­nents of us­ing a Ko­ranic verse, which sug­gests Mus­lims should not choose non-Mus­lims as lead­ers, in order to trick peo­ple into vot­ing against him.

Mr Pur­nama has apol­o­gised but pledged not to pull out of the Jakarta elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary. –

Photo: AFP

Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama is ac­cused of in­sult­ing the Ko­ran.

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